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Can Cats Eat Shrimp? What You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

a plastic full of cooked shrimp
Image credit: Pixabay

Wait a second! Before you feed that cat those table scraps, you might want to first find out if shrimp can compromise its health in any way. You know it’s cool that you want your cat to enjoy a meal that you find delicious, but you also have to understand that sometimes caring is more important than sharing.

A lot of people fail to understand that certain human foods are off-limits when it comes to cats. These creatures might look ferocious on the outside, but on the inside, they are actually very delicate. We wouldn’t want shrimp to wreak havoc in there, now, would we?

Because we love cats so much, we’ve decided to share what we know about shrimp with all the cat lovers out there. So, to answer the question…

Can Cats Eat Shrimp?

The answer is yes. They can eat shrimp. However, you also have to take into account risks involved, or as vets love to put it, “the dangers of feeding your cat shrimp.”

Everything has an upside and a downside. And if the downside outweighs the upside, you’re better off feeding your cat something else. Also, if you’ve gotten a green light from your vet, you shouldn’t serve it as the main dish.

All these things that we’re telling you will make a lot of sense once you’ve learned everything there is to know about shrimp, why some veterinarians think it’s good for cats, and why others don’t.

Cat wants to eat shrimp
Image Credit: Dmitry Vinogradov, Shutterstock

Reasons Why Cats Should Eat Shrimp

Low in Calories

Go ahead and take a quick look at your shrimp’s nutritional profile. You’ll be surprised to learn that there’s only 84 calories in a 3-ounce serving. And if you think that’s intriguing, here’s the kicker—It never comes with any refined carbs.

Several studies have concluded that a significant percentage of the calories consumed per serving always originate from protein, and a small percentage from fat. Additionally, in the same serving, your cat will also be getting different minerals and vitamins that are essential in the development of their immune system.

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Reasonable Cholesterol Content

We honestly don’t know why cholesterol always gets a bad rap. People keep talking about how high cholesterol is bad for your health, but they forget that anything consumed in high quantities automatically becomes bad. Including protein.

But if you consume it in moderation, your body will definitely benefit from it. Hence, the reason why you need to feed your cat shrimp once a while.

By the way, we won’t even try to hide the fact that the cholesterol amount found in shrimp isn’t 85 percent higher than that found in other seafood. It is, and we know it. What we also know is that cholesterol is important to cats that need to produce bile acid faster, and vitamin D naturally.

peeled shrimp close up
Image credit: Pixabay


Have you ever heard of something called astaxanthin?

Well, it’s a tetraterpenoid—also known as antioxidant—that is found in shrimp. You see the thing is, shrimp loves to consume a lot of algae. And in that algae, you’ll find astaxanthin—the substance that makes shrimp appear reddish.

Astaxanthin is like one of the raw materials needed for the growth and development of different systems in the cat’s body. It has a way of strengthening the arteries, and offers protection against radicals that might damage body cells.

Additional Nutrients

Shrimp is not just a tasty treat. It provides additional and essential nutrients like calcium, selenium, vitamin B12, magnesium, and phosphorus. All of which are beneficial to the development of the musculoskeletal system.

Dangers of Feeding Your Cat Shrimp

Iodine Poisoning

Even though it’s rarely talked about, shrimp has high levels of iodine in it. It’s obviously not high enough to affect humans, but like we said before, cats are very sensitive. You cannot compare an average adult to a cat because people can consume up to 1000mcg of iodine, and not feel any effect.

The question that you need to ask yourself is, are you willing to risk your cat’s health just because there are no clear reports on whether iodine affects felines?

raw shrimps
Image credit: Pixabay


Cats are usually more into raw shrimp, and not the cooked ones. And that’s understandable considering they love fresh meat. But the problem is, this fresh meat normally contains a bacterium known as the Vibrio. A bacterium known to cause health complications such as cholera and gastritis.

And that’s not even the worst of it. A couple of years back, there was a study that found out that there are at least 100 different strains of Vibrio. Furthermore, a substantial number of them have developed some form of resistance to antibiotics throughout the years.

So, they were basically telling us that if your cat has been infected by Vibrio, chances are there won’t be a cure. It will have to power through all the vomiting and diarrhea, or die trying.

High Mercury Levels

This is a conversation that we’ve had before. In fact, it’s made the news on several occasions, and even been the reason behind some of the “Conserve Our Planet” protests that have been going on. The mercury levels in the seas, lakes, and oceans have exponentially increased over the years, and the ripple effects have been seen in the seafood that we consume.

There’s a very high probability that the shrimp that you’re about to feed your cat has been tainted by methylmercury, the cause of mercury poisoning.

Any cat that’s been poisoned by methylmercury will be numb at some point, appear weak, depressed, anxious, and even irritable. All these are nothing more than symptoms, as the main problem will be in the nervous system. That’s the area most affected by mercury.

And for the record, there’s no cure for this type of poisoning. The vet could help you manage the symptoms, but there won’t be much to do except to wait it out and hope things go back to normal.

peeled shrimps
Image credit: Pixabay

Antibiotic Use

A good fraction of the shrimp that we consume has been imported from other countries. As a matter of fact, if we had to work with a percentage, we’d say about 80 percent of our shrimp are imports because that’s the only way the market could meet the demand. And although we appreciate this increased supply, their qualities are questionable.

The imported shrimp are all farm-raised. And since farm-raised shrimp is very susceptible to different diseases, farmers in those countries always use antibiotics to treat them beforehand. We don’t really know how these antibiotics will affect your cat’s health, but we’re assuming it’s bad seeing as the FDA banned them.

Regrettably, the FDA has been stretched thin lately, so they can’t check everything that crosses our borders. That means you could be feeding your cat farm-raised shrimp with antibiotics in it.

We’ll reiterate this one last time. If you have to feed your cat shrimp, or if the vet recommends it as a treat, go for the wild-caught ones instead. That’s the only way you’ll be certain there won’t be any antibiotics to worry about.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the safest way to feed shrimp to your cat?

First off, make sure all that meat is deveined, and doesn’t have a tail, head, or shell. In other words, no frills. Secondly, it’s best to feed the cat plain shrimp, instead of one that has been cooked with different ingredients. The spices meant to make it tasty to humans could be toxic to cats. And lastly, feed it in moderation. Just because your feline pal loves it so much, doesn’t mean that it could be a meal replacement.

Is processed shrimp good for your cat?

That’s a hard no, buddy. You need to understand that all processed foods have ridiculously high levels of sodium in them, because sodium is known to be the best preservative. Add it to the herbs and spices used as seasoning, and we’ve got ourselves a recipe for disaster.

Frozen shrimp is okay, though. But still not totally safe, seeing as you can never tell where the seller got it from. It could be farm-raised. You never know.

cooked shrimp
Image credit: Pixabay

What’s the difference between warm-water and cold-water shrimp?

Warm-water shrimp will be found in tropical and subtropical waters, whereas cold-water shrimp are found in the northern regions of North America. That’s the regional difference.

When they’re brought to the market, the cold-water shrimp won’t have shells while the warm-water shrimp will.

Where can you buy shrimp to feed your cat?

As mentioned earlier on, there’s farm-raised shrimp and wild shrimp. A small percentage of shrimp found in the United States is wild shrimp, and they’re often found in the coastal ocean waters.

The farm-raised shrimp will be found in ponds, as they have to be supplemented with formulated feeds. This type is the most common shrimp in grocery stores.

What do cats love?

Meat. Cats love meat, and more meat. But they can’t really differentiate between good meat and bad meat. That’s why they have you. They’re depending on you to help them exercise “self-control” or pick what’s safe for them.

Of course, there are times when you’ll see them devouring fruits or vegetables, but they’d prefer to eat meat over anything else.

grey cat eating meat
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

What types of bacteria are found in raw shrimp?

There’s Salmonella Listeria and Escherichia coli, and both of them are very dangerous. If you’ve noticed symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach upsets, schedule a vet visit as soon as possible. Otherwise, the situation will worsen, and you might lose your cat.

Final Word

There’s no doubt in our minds that cats love shrimp. We know this, and so do you. But sometimes saying no to something is a way of showing love. So if you feel like shrimp could easily compromise your cat’s health, feed it alternative healthy snacks. If you want to change its diet, first talk to your vet. They’ll certainly have all the answers to any question that you might have.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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